Women’s tennis stars struggling to find longevity
There have been quite a number of retirement announcements in women’s tennis lately. They seem to be flooding in at the moment; some very high-profile.
2018 Australian Open Champion Caroline Wozniacki (29), decided it was time to hang up her racket after this year’s Australian Open in January, five-time Grand Slam champion and one of the biggest names in tennis for almost two decades, Maria Sharapova also recently, albeit unceremoniously, called time on her illustrious career at the age of 32.
Naturally, every sportsperson will retire at some point but in the last few years, women in tennis have been retiring quite early. Not very many are playing well into their thirties (even forties) anymore.
In 2016, former world number one Ana Ivanovic announced her retirement from the sport at the age of 29, stating that she was no longer able to play to her high standards and win big tournaments.
Truly, the 2008 French Open champion had battled with injuries in the years leading up to her retirement. Tennis fans were however sad to see her end her career that early, as she was one of the most lovable on tour.
In 2018, another top player, former world number two, Agnieszka Radwanska, also at age 29, decided it was time to call it quits. In her words; “Unfortunately I am no longer able to train and play the way I used to, and recently my body can’t live up to my expectations. Taking into consideration my health and the heavy burdens of professional tennis, I have to concede that I’m not able to push my body to the limits required.”
That dealt another blow to the world of tennis.
In 2019, more retirements came.
Former world number five Lucie Safarova (32) ended her career after the French Open. Former world number four Dominika Cibulkova (30) announced her retirement after a few years of struggle.
In December, former world six Carla Suarez Navarro also announced that 2020 will be her final year as a professional tennis player and just days later, Wozniacki announced she would be retiring after the Australian Open at the age of 29.
31-year-old Swedish woman Johanna Larsson also recently announced her retirement and Magdalena Rybarikova, also 31, announced she will walk away from the sport after the Fed Cup Finals in Budapest next month.
These retirements in their late twenties and early thirties makes you wonder what happened to longevity in women’s tennis.
These days, very few in the WTA play at a high level into their thirties unlike in the ATP where the likes of Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer are still flourishing.
Too many female tennis players are declining too early.
Venus and Serena Williams are the few exemptions.
While they are no longer as dominant as they used to be, they have played well into their thirties and stayed relevant in three different decades.
Serena who turns 39 this September is currently world number nine, Venus turns 40 in June and is 65th on the rankings.
Most of the players who have retired in recent times have given similar reasons: they can no longer play at a high level and their bodies can no longer take the strain of professional tennis.
Some have stated their desire to start families and focus on other aspects of their lives.
As much as it is good to see the young guns dominating, it is also worrying to see many early retirements.
Considering the current rate of retirements, the names of some declining players come to mind and it would be no surprise to hear them also announce the end of their careers.